I’m a social media person, so I keep up on social media news. Today I read an article about Instagram Journalism. Linked within the article were some accounts and I found myself following the pictures of a NatGeo photojournalist. These were the shots that never made it to print. These were the images that he took and that resonated with him as a person, but perhaps not as the photojournalist of a story. Maybe they didn’t figure into the agenda of the article. Maybe the visual wasn’t quite in tandem with the context of the story. Maybe they were just too personal, like a snapshot of an intimate moment of life in the world, not meant for consumption via the pages of a glossy magazine.
Whatever the reason, I found myself transfixed as I clicked through the images in the feed. Every shot told a story. Every person represented an entire life, from start to finish, captured in this brief flash of a lens.
There was a time when I thought perhaps I could do that job. I could be a photojournalist. I could take pictures that told a million words each. I could change the world with a snapshot of life that people might never see otherwise.
Today I went to see my mom. She was settled in at home, tucked into a reclining chair as we buzzed about her doing her bidding. She looked small and frail. The chair eclipsed her, like it was molded for giants and here sits a tiny old woman instead. She does look old. She looks tired. She looks weary of the world. She also looks content to be home, surrounded by those who love her.
My brother stopped by after picking up my nephew. It’d been a while since I had seen my brother and part of me couldn’t figure out who this stranger was in his skin. My nephew had grown in the few months since I last saw him.
“Come give kisses!” my mom instructed him, holding out her arms to him. My nephew crawled up into the recliner with her. He leaned on her port. She winced, then smiled and showed him her ‘boo-boo’ and told him to be careful of it. “I’m twenty one!” he informed her with the seriousness only a five-year-old can muster.
I grabbed my phone and took a picture of them cuddling, my mom planting a kiss on his forehead.
It was blurry. It was out of focus in spots. The lighting was wrong. There was a glare in his eyes. I cut off part of my mom’s head.
It was the best picture I’ve ever taken.
But I realized that clearly I am not meant to capture life’s moments on film. I am, hopefully, much better with using words to convey my emotions and happenings.
And so I write.